CHEATING AT POKER (In The Private Game)

Cheating at cards has existed ever since the invention of playing cards. Wikipedia defines cheating at poker as "Any behavior outside the rules that is intended to give an unfair advantage to one or more players." Traditional forms of cheating at poker are known for taking place in the private game, because when the players are allowed to shuffle and deal the game is more susceptible to the skills of a mechanic (a cheater skilled in sleight-of-hand and the manipulation of playing cards). This is often confused with the term cardshark, which refers to a very good poker player that plays fairly. Some of the general tools of the mechanic include:

Marked Cards - Perhaps the most well-known technique for cheating at poker is using a deck of marked cards. However, most players know little more than the general fact that marked cards exist, and very few would have any chance at all to detect a professionally marked deck sitting in front of them. There are many variations in how a deck can be marked, but in the end the cards are either marked to be recognized visually or by touch with the fingertips during the deal. Some methods used to mark cards for visual recognition are only designed for the dealer to read, while others are designed to be read across the table. Some require the cheat to mark the cards before play, while others allow a cardsharp to mark his opponent's deck during play (clearly a very strong way to cheat at poker). The most common marking techniques that take place during a game is the nail nick (using the fingernail to "nick" the edge of a desired card) or waving (bending the card for visual recognition). Using a needle, one can also pre-mark a deck of cards by scratching the color off of the card's back design. Far more sophisticated methods for pre-marking a deck have been developed with the use of chemicals. Some chemical markings are designed to be seen with the naked eye by throwing your eyes out of focus, some require sunglasses or contacts with special filter, and some can't be seen by any of the players at the table, and are read through a special hidden camera that reads the marks and sends the information to partners in another room. However, please keep in mind that what I am mentioning here does not even cover the basics. For an incredible collection of marked card concepts and methods, refer to Cheating at Texas Hold'em.

Stacking the Deck - For every true cut and shuffle in existence, there is a crooked shuffle or cut that looks the same but can be used to cheat at poker. A myriad of methods have been developed to locate cards, control them, and stack them during the shuffle so that the cheater or his partner can receive the desired hand.

Nullifying the Final Cut - In private game, the deck is usually offered to the opponent sitting to the dealer's right for one last cut before the hands are dealt. This customary procedure was developed to help deter players who would try to run up a good hand during the shuffle. Therefore, many methods have been developed by card mechanics to undo, or "nullify" this final cut.

Crooked Dealing - The ability to create the illusion of dealing the top card while in reality putting another card into play opens up many opportunities for a card cheat. Though there are many applications for a bottom deal, second deal, or center deal, the point of this overview is that they exit and are extremely effective in putting peeked cards into play during the flop, fourth street, or river.

Cold Deck - Another one of the premier ways for someone to cheat at poker it to switch in a pre-arranged deck, also known as a cold deck or a cooler (named as such because the cards being switched in are supposedly cooler than the cards that have been in play). A cold deck is developed to give many of the players at the table a good hand, while giving the cardsharp the best hand and likely the healthiest pot of the night. A cold deck is also a useful tool to switch a marked deck into the game.

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